Lawsuit Against Insulin Companies Can Move Forward…..Tick Tick Tick

Below is the press release from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.  They are a consumer-rights class-action law firm with 10 offices across the country. They have won quite a few cases in the history of these type cases.The release is below with permission.

I spoke to a representative of the Law Firm tonight who stated that it is hoped that during ‘the discovery’ stage as this case moves forward, that practices not in the light today, including the PBMs and those practices, will come to light in full transparency.

While Steve Berman (Law Firm Partner) accused the benefit managers of being complicit, he said the lawsuit focused on the drug makers because “they are playing the game, and they are the ones who publish the list price.   (Link is NY times article including the quote) it very well may be that based on what is found in the discovery stage that the PBMS could be added as defendants.

In the 210 page complaint it states:

  1. Plaintiffs seek monetary relief against defendants in an amount to be determined at trial. Plaintiffs also seek punitive damages because defendants acted wantonly in causing plaintiffs’ and class members’ injuries or with such a conscious indifference to the consequences that malice may be inferred.
  2. Plaintiffs also seek an order enjoining defendants’ unfair, unlawful, and/or deceptive practices, attorneys’ fees, and any other just and proper relief ……….

Read the release below and after it is a link to the law firm as they are looking for participants in other states to join, as ordered by the court.  Have your story heard.

NEWARK, N.J. – Today, a federal judge’s opinion has greenlighted a national class-action lawsuit filed against Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly for their systematic overpricing of insulin and concealment of a behind-the-scenes arrangement orchestrated to hike insulin prices, according to attorneys at Hagens Berman.

Hon. Brian R. Martinotti, U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey granted in part and denied in part the drug companies’ motion to dismiss the case. The opinion allows state law claims from plaintiffs – people living with diabetes who Eli Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk have forced to pay skyrocketing insulin prices – and gave attorneys representing them ability to address concerns regarding individual state representation. To the extent the court requires a patient from each state, attorneys say they can and will add clients to satisfy the court’s concerns.

Regarding the plaintiffs’ state claims, Judge Martinotti’s opinion read, “This Court finds Plaintiffs have adequately alleged fraudulent, unfair, or unconscionable conduct.” The court also held that the plaintiffs “adequately pled an ascertainable loss.”

The lawsuit states that in recent years, Sanofi, Novo Nordisk and Eli Lilly have raised the sticker or “benchmark” prices on their drugs by more than 150 percent. Some plaintiffs now pay almost $900 dollars per month just to obtain the drugs they need, according to the firm.

Hagens Berman filed the first-of-its-kind lawsuit in 2017, detailing several accounts from patients resorting to extreme measures to survive rising insulin prices, including starving themselves to control their blood sugars, under-dosing their insulin, and taking expired insulin. The complaint also detailed how class members having intentionally allowed themselves to slip into diabetic ketoacidosis – a potentially fatal blood syndrome caused by lack of insulin in the body – so that they can obtain insulin samples from hospital emergency rooms.

Steve Berman, managing partner and co-founder of Hagens Berman, was named co-lead counsel in the case by Judge Martinotti.

“In general we are pleased with the decision because we can now bring consumer protection claims in most states,” Berman said. “This ruling also clears the way for us to begin obtaining discovery from the manufacturers and PBMs so we can shine the light on exactly what has driven insulin prices sky high.”

“This ruling blows the insulin racket wide open,” he added.

The complaint states that this once affordable drug is now out of reach for many patients due to a behind-the-scenes quid pro quo arrangement between drug makers and pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs): “increased benchmark prices are the result of a scheme and enterprise among each defendant and several bulk drug distributors. In this scheme, the defendant drug companies set two different prices for their insulin treatments: a publicly-reported, benchmark price and a lower, real price that they offer to certain bulk drug distributors.”

Click this link for this press release and scroll to see what other individuals from what states are sought.

If you have a story—-now is your chance to tell it.

Might it be that we may see this come to an end.  Sadly, as this moves through the courts and appeals, many others will die as they ration their insulin, or outright cannot afford it and cannot obtain it.  But it is a step.

Tick….tick….tick…..the clock is ticking, let’s hope they all do what is right sooner rather than later……..and even sadder, why has it come to this?

I’m a DiabetesDad
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Thoughts on that ‘Walmart’ Insulin

I have been reading some VERY INTERESTING comments on social media regarding the “insulin sold at Walmart”.  Some even using actual scare tactics that I’m not so sure should be used by anyone, nor does anyone any good.  Still not so sure why THAT is even being done.

To be clear,  Buying these insulins IS NOT an alternative to the dilemma of the high insulin costs.  What IT IS, is an alternative to dying because one cannot afford insulin. 

There are many things I have read over the years that leaves me scratching my head.  But I have also learned that how one manage their diabetes, or their loved ones’ diabetes ……is……well……up to them. If you can find a way to make the insulins work that Walmart sells, more power to you.  When Kaitlyn was first diagnosed, those insulins were pretty much all there was to manage the disease.  In fact one was actually ‘pork insulin’.  Twenty-six years later, here we are.

It will take an adjustment and a doctor should surely be involved….as always.  And it will probably be a pain in the ass. These certainly are the older generation of insulins, and so they don’t provide quite the same coverage for blood sugars. They have a shorter half-life than name brand insulins and they do not come in pens. They can peak in two hours and may need a 30-60 minute lead time….like I said, a pain.

You will also be better served by finding a way to obtain the insulins that are available today.  But if you cannot afford it, if the cost-reduction programs that the companies offer do not work for you, if you have tried government programs, senior centers (if applicable), and community and social programs for help and if there are no options…..and the only option is NOT TAKING insulin, well THAT is not an option at all.

Now please do not come after me with pitchforks and torches.  TO BE CLEAR: NOTHING SHOULD STOP THE PRESSURE BEING MOUNTED AGAINST THESE HIGH COSTS.  But I would not want it on my conscience that someone read something that I wrote and did not at least try it because of what I said…..and died because they went without.  There is a difference between ‘stop-gap’ action and a substitute for.

I’m still unsure why the government cannot relax the restrictions for buying insulin abroad until such time that those who are so ‘piggy with greed’ can find a balance.  Because this dilemma is bad, stupid, and inhumane.  Like the air we breath when denied, will kill us; so too it is a death sentence to not have insulin affordable to those who cannot survive without it.  THAT THOUGHT HAS NOT CHANGED. Why some bright lawyer has not figured out a way to sue over that, is also beyond me.

WE WILL ALL KEEP FIGHTING.  YOU must find a way to stay alive.  My prayers will continue and my actions will stay in full force until we find this rectified.  And if there is something out there to try with your doctor’s help as oppose to doing without…..I choose trying.  That is my point today,
I’m a DiabetesDad
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Small Time Becoming BIG TIME…..Diabetes Community’s Perfect Song

There was a movie with Tom Hanks making the rounds a years ago entitled,
That Thing You Do.  Wikipedia describes the movie; A small-time rock band rides a big wave of success with the help of a savvy record-executive and a catchy single.

You? You’re the small time rock band.  The savvy record executive are the voices who started this outcry.  And the catchy single is the unfairness of insulin prices.

The movie is about this small town group, with just a small voice keeps pushing and riding and yelling from the mountain tops that they have a good song.  Finally, a company called PlayTone (starting out as fictitious record company for the movie and actually established in 1998 by Mr. Hank and friends) signs them and pushes them to the top.  Had the voices not been there early on, the success would not have occurred.

Now read this first line from a Reuters article two days ago, and read it carefully.
Powerful committees in the U.S. Congress held hearings on Tuesday on insulin affordability and high prescription drug prices, an issue both chambers have said is a top priority for the year.

You did that.   Yes, you!

Before all of the many large organized diabetes groups jumped on board; and just as in the movie, you need big time to take you to the big time and they are a welcome site, there was just you.  You who have diabetes or have a child with diabetes first said, This is unfair, the current costs are going to be hurtful.   You wrote letters, you protested (even by yourself), you posted on social media…..you…..the voices in the diabetes community….before anything that occurred, became organized, or became unified……it was just you….that one voice who cared enough to “just not do nothing”.

So there is surely much work to happen yet.  But before all the big guns jump out and send press releases telling you of their wonderful efforts…….and they surely were and are wonderful efforts……..I just want to add a word of thanks to all those who one will not read bout, see, or hear about.   But know this, with no uncertainty, without those voices to tell the stories of rationing, cutting insulin doses, and simply doing without when no one else thought it cool enough or news worthy enough; we would not be here today.

Like I said…….more to do…….but thank you diabetes community, your voices are about to turn into a roar.  A number one hit no matter how you look at it.

I’m a DiabetesDad
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Legislation on New Bill to Tax Air we Breathe

In a very discreet and without fanfare congressional move, both houses today passed legislation that states commencing on January 1, 2020 there will be a tax placed on each American citizen for the use of air which is part of the mainland United States.  Senator John Consigliere of Wyoming stated that the move was made to further be able to pay for the many means of purification now needed for breathable air……………….

…….okay……got your attention??????

Stupid isn’t it that something so needed would have any cost to use it?  Something we would die without.  So needed for us to live that it does not make any sense to think we would have to pay for something we have to use to stay alive.  There will be no tax, there is no such Senator from Wyoming.

BUT for goodness sake can someone, anyone, possibly explain to me that people who need insulin to live; in some cases cannot get it due to cost.  If you think about it, there are many, many medications you can take to make your life bearable and better.  Some could die, if the med was not  taken.  But every single person—–EVERY SINGLE ONE of those who live with type 1 diabetes would die if their insulin was not available.  Some sooner than others.  And here’s the story, some have died already.

One was too many–and why?
Because of GREED!!!!!!!!

What does the government need to see to step in here.  Until a solution is reached, let’s call on the government to relax any and all legislation that prevents people from using whatever means necessary to obtain affordable insulin.  If an executive action can get a wall built (well, ok, threaten to anyway)….cannot the same action open the boarders, ease the restrictions, open the floodgates to allow insulin to be purchased at an affordable price?????

Once we figure it all out, we can backtrack a little but until such time, an emergency act can save lives and surely……it will!

Send this everywhere you can.  Until such time that we have an answer, this is an emergency action, an executive action. to save lives.

This is not a favor to make life comfortable.  This is an act of government/congress/senate/executive to allow insulin to be purchased……..at the end of the day, to so many, it’s as important as air.

I’m a DiabetesDad
Please visit my Diabetes Dad FB Page and hit ‘like’.